Imagine this: You are at a dance party and a gentleman asks you for the next dance, you gladly accept, but then you find out that he doesn't know how to lead! What to do? You must remember the first rule of partnership dancing for all ladies. You never, never, ever lead!! I know that it is tempting but this is the one rule that can not be broken. What, you ask, should I be doing as the female in this partnership?
First, you need to understand that you, as a lady, learn differently from men (as those of who you have been with us from the beginning will remember from past articles). Women also feel dancing differently than men do. With that said, you should approach any partnership dancing (especially Ballroom) differently than your male partner. Because men learn differently than women, it is important for you to allow your male partner to learn at his own pace and in his own way. Don't push him to learn your way - in most cases he just can't! During the beginning stages of learning, a man will not always be with the music and following his lead is more important than being with the music.
I can not emphasize enough the importance of what you learn when you take dance lessons (whether they are groups or privates). First, you should understand that learning patterns is not as important as learning the fundamental elements that make up a pattern and how to move your body. If, as a woman, I understand where my center is, whether I use the ball or heel of my foot on each step, the correct placement of my head, etc., I can dance any pattern led whether I have done it before or not. The problem with learning patterns is that we have a tendency to do one of two things, lead or guess. Both of these are wrong and can spell trouble.
Learning how to use your center in dancing allows you to feel more grounded and in control. This is an important benefit to those of us who are shorter than most of our dance partners. It keeps you from dancing "up" to your partner because this is the only way to maintain your center and the center of the partnership. Understanding how to move your body will take additional weight off your partner and I mean literally because if you are dancing your body, then you will not be leaning on the man.
Once you have taken lessons (or even if you have danced for years), it is important for you to dance with a lot of different partners. This allows you to "feel" a variety of different leads and dance styles. When you begin to understand that you can feel what the man is doing even when he is not leading you will become more sensitive in your following. Respond only to what is led. You will find that your dancing will improve tremendously the more you practice. This, of course, means finding a place where you can really stretch those "dance muscles" and most of us don't have enough space in our houses to practice.
I leave you with this thought; just like Ginger Roger we need to do all this while dancing backwards in 2" heels!